Does your organization have a written communications strategy?
If not, you’re not alone.
A recent global survey from Gallagher Group revealed that over half of all organizations don’t have a planned approach to their internal communications. It’s understandable - communications teams are often small, and stretched thin supporting multiple projects and initiatives.
They become trapped in a vicious circle. Reacting to ad hoc requests can make it feel like there’s no time to step back and develop a strategy. But without one, there’s no ability to manage and structure the many requests that pile up on a daily basis.
This doesn’t just impact the communications team, it impacts the whole organization. Employees end up bombarded with excessive, confusing and conflicting messages, making it harder for them to prioritize the information they need to perform well. Leaders struggle to be heard over the noise. People end up disengaged and lacking direction.
These are the reasons why we think it’s time to bite the bullet, and set aside the time to develop your organizational communications strategy.
Performance is a Communications Issue
Take a look at our infographic.
Only one in three employees understands their company’s strategy, and fewer than 10 percent can describe their role in delivering it.
It doesn’t take a Jack Welch to understand how this impacts organizational performance… and just how much value is being left on the table because employees are (inadvertently) working in a directionless fashion.
Pulling in the same direction, singing from the same song sheet… whatever your preferred cliche, helping employees to perform at their best, and deliver what is expected by leadership, is a critical function of the communications team.
When organizations are able to clearly communicate not only their strategy, but how every employee group, from administrative staff to senior leaders, plays a part in delivering it, the benefits are manifest. Not only does the company start achieving its goals, employees become more engaged, innovative and productive - because you’ve made it easy for them to see how they are part of the business’s success.
Turn the volume down
We’ve all said it a million times. We’re suffering from communications overload. Everywhere people turn, from the moment they wake up and check their phones, to an advertisement-filled morning commute, to arriving at work to an overflowing inbox, they are being asked to process more and more information.
Human beings make around 35,000 decisions a day, many of them unconscious. The more information we’re asked to process, the more overloaded our brains become, and the poorer the quality of our decision making.
It may seem counterintuitive, but one of the most important roles of a communicator is turning the volume DOWN.
By carefully designing and strictly employing a clear communications strategy (and this second part is key), the important messages can reach the right people at the right time. Communicators can use a strategy to educate the organization about a more selective communications approach that supports employees to perform at their best, and reduces overwhelm for everyone. Including the comms team.
Be a culture shaper
Culture eats strategy for breakfast, right?
Well yes. But somewhat ironically, culture doesn’t just happen - it needs a planned approach. A strategy, if you will.
Top organizations don’t just have a people and culture strategy, they make people and culture part of their overall strategy. When communications planning is aligned with this, communicators can use their whole toolkit to ensure that every corporate message acts as a building block in constructing the type of culture the organization wants to have.
How you prioritize your messages, your tone of voice, what channels you use: all these things can play an important role in creating the day to day expectations and behavioural norms that come to make up a culture. Ping pong tables and slushy machines are great, but it’s how we choose to communicate that really speaks volumes about what a culture is really like.
Credibility gets results
For all the communicators reading this: How often does it feel like people in your organization think your only job is to write all-points emails? Or worse, to send out the badly written emails that they wrote?
While changing perceptions takes time, the old adage that respect is earned is also true. When communicators treat the function as a key contributor to organizational success, others will follow suit.
A written strategy positions communicators as credible businesspeople, with the capability to use their expertise to deliver real results.
This applies equally to communicators in government and not-for-profits, too. All organizations have objectives which can usually only be achieved with strategic planning, which includes the allocation of finite resources. All communicators can benefit from knowing how to apply strategic principles and language.
A reputation for gravitas makes it far easier to educate the business on how the comms function can help to deliver their objectives in the right way. And not just send out unreadable emails.
SO WHERE DO YOU BEGIN?
We’ll be sharing a future post about the elements of a communications strategy, to help kick off what can feel like a daunting process.But we know that finding the time and resources to develop a strategy can be tough. If you’d like to have a conversation with us about developing a more strategic approach to your communications, please get in touch.
We believe in being your partner, and we want you to get to know us before we work together, so our first hour is always free.